This week my trusty iphone came in handy again. This week’s photo also involves a story about car “issues”. Unfortunately I only have myself to blame for this incident. This week (on my way home from visiting Jessica, I should add) I was creeping home in some traffic. I somehow “kissed” the car in front of me. Thankfully, there was no damage to either car. Not even a scratch on his bumper. The Korean man got out of the car, opened the back door to his car and spoke rapidly in Korean to the woman sitting in the back. He then proceeded to take photos of my car and his bumper all while muttering to himself in Korean. I opened up my translation app and tried to converse. He ignored my attempts. The woman got out of the car. I asked several times if we could move out of traffic and then resorted to asking “what should we do” via my translation app. The woman read the app in perfect English and then answered me in English. I’m unsure why she chose not to reveal this skill prior to this moment. We all agreed there was no damage but the man was still incessant in asking for my insurance information. We have had it drilled into our heads to never ever ever leave the scene of an accident without calling the police. Yet the man was very reluctant to do so. I was finally able to convince him to move out of traffic- which he did after confirming that he had my phone number and calling it several times…As we stood outside gesturing to each other he proceeded to climb into my vehicle (!) and take my registration out of my glove compartment and snap photos of it. He was then very adamant that he was very busy and had no time to call the police. The woman in the car leaned out to tell me that her neck and back hurt and that she needed treatment immediately. I was adamant that if he was going to take photos of my registration and if she was complaining of pain that we needed to call the police. To which he again checked that he had my correct phone number and drove off…..my photo this week is of him driving off…so that I could show the police that I was not the one who left the scene.
After much conversing with my husband, who called a Korean friend from work, we contacted the police. The police arrived about 30 minutes after I called them and seemed nonplussed when I explained what had happened. The incident, the lack of damage, the neck pain complaint, and the fact that the other car left the scene with my registration info appeared to be no big deal. He asked if we had exchanged phone numbers and was satisfied that we had. He told me that Koreans saw getting rear-ended as very rude and culturally disrespectful (but apparently climbing into someone else’s car and rifling through their glove compartment is not disrespectful?). And that it is the “Korean Way” for them to complain quite a bit about neck pain after any type of accident. Apparently if they go to the doctor complaining of neck pain after a fender bender (or in this case non-fender bender) that they are entitled to two weeks off of work. When I brought up the fact that he drove off saying that he was “in a hurry” the policeman told me “this is a common problem for people to have. It is common for people to be in a hurry”. The officer also said that the man was very likely to call me to claim some type of compensation for injury. So far I haven’t heard anything. I’m guessing the neck pain was just a cultural “act”. I’m really very embarrassed and irritated by the whole situation, but Elizabeth reassures me that it is impossible to leave here without one accident. I’m hoping this is my one!!! So, this is unfortunately how I saw Korea this week. Hoping not to see it this way again! 🙂
Note: I have no idea if what the officer told me about these “Korean customs” is accurate or not. Just reporting what he told me!